hemp farming in tn

Hemp-growing rules changing in Tennessee

Posted: Jun 4, 2019 / 03:45 PM CDT / Updated: Jun 4, 2019 / 03:45 PM CDT

A field of hemp or cannabis, grown increasingly as a mainstream crop in the UK and used for a variety of uses. Hemp has been used for industrial purposes including paper, textiles, biodegradable plastics, construction, health food, fuel, and medical purposes.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Rules for hemp-farming operations are changing to better serve hemp producers in Tennessee, the state’s Department of Agriculture says.

The application period for a license to grow hemp is now open year-round. Grower applications can be found online at

Licenses will expire June 30 of each year, and all grower licenses issued in 2019 will expire June 2020.

Other program changes include:

· Hemp processors will no longer be required to register through TDA.

· The hemp program will no longer issue licenses for certified seed breeders. However, anyone manufacturing, distributing, or labeling seed should be licensed through TDA’s Ag Inputs section.

· Growers will still need movement permits when transporting rooted plants and are now required to be permitted when moving harvested hemp from their growing site.

“Farmers have been growing and researching this crop in Tennessee since the program began in 2015 as a pilot program,” Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Hatcher, D.V.M. said. “The hemp industry and federal laws have changed in recent years, and we’re updating our program rules to be more consistent with how other crop programs are managed.”

TDA has licensed more than 2,900 hemp growers in 2019. In 2018, TDA approved 226 hemp producer applications.

Federal and state laws require Tennessee hemp growers be licensed through TDA’s hemp program. While the 2018 Farm Bill removes hemp from the list of federally controlled substances, it remains illegal to grow hemp without a license through an approved state program.

Rules for hemp-farming operations are changing to better serve hemp producers in Tennessee, the state's Department of Agriculture says.

Getting Started







1. Who can grow industrial hemp, where can it be grown and is there a size or zone requirement?

Anybody can apply to grow industrial hemp except one who has been convicted of a felony for controlled substance in the past 10 years. Anyone who has been issued a hemp license can grow on the approved growing areas indicated on their application. Licensed industrial hemp can be grown anywhere, indoor or outdoor. The research pilot program allows for any size growing area, from large acre lots to small garden sizes. There are no zoning requirements for a hemp license.

2. How do I get an industrial hemp growers and/or processor license?

Applications and registration for an industrial hemp grower license and processor registration must be submitted during the open application period. The next application period will open on November 15th and will close February 15th. Your application must be complete, you must submit an aerial photograph of the growing area and payment. License fees for an industrial hemp growers license is $250-$350 depending on the size of the growing area. There is no fee for processor registration.

3. Do I need to register as a processor?

Maybe, processor registration is required for processing industrial hemp. Processing means to treat or transform harvested industrial hemp from its natural state for distribution in commerce. You do not need to register for personal use only.

4. When are licenses mailed out?

Licenses for industrial hemp growers are mailed on March 1st. Growers are not licensed until they have received a growers license.

5. What does viable and non-viable mean?

Viable hemp is material capable of reproduction including; seeds, seedlings & clones. Non-viable material is not capable of reproduction, which includes stalks, leaves, and flowers.

6. Do you know anyone who can consult with me on how to grow?

The TNHIA is a resource for assistance as well as UT extension offices in your county.

7. Where do I find seeds or seedlings?

Individuals are responsible for sourcing their own propagative material. TNHIA is a great resource. All seed or plant material being brought into the state must have prior approval by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA). Please use our seed and propagule acquisition forms to request approval. If importing from another state use this link:

With your seed or plant acquisition request, you must submit a copy of your industrial hemp growers license, the industrial hemp license for the firm providing the seed and third party test results showing the variety is below the .3%THC threshold. If you want to grow and sell clones, you must provide documentation of permission from the source that allows for replication of those genetics. All seed and clones being brought into the state or leaving the state must be shipped or brought DIRECTLY to the Tennessee Department of agriculture for inventory . Movement permits are required to track the purchase or movement of industrial hemp seed, seedling and clones (viable material).

8. What is the inspection process like?

Every crop grown and every variety may be inspected and sampled by a TDA plant inspector prior to harvest. The grower should contact TDA 30 days prior to harvest for inspection. The license holder is responsible for paying all fees associated with the sample. Each sample is $150. Please keep in mind that the way you set up your production method, may influence the number of samples required to represent the amount of material being produced. Growing multiple varieties will also increase the sampling cost.

9. Can I send off samples to get tested on my own?

Yes and TDA encourages self-monitoring of industrial hemp crops. A google search will give you multiple options. Contact a lawyer for legal advice about sending samples across state lines. Also, please note that 3rd party test results do not replace sampling conducted by TDA.

10. What can I do with my harvested crop?

Viable industrial hemp must only be transferred to a licensed pilot program participant. Non-­viable (not able to develop, grow, or survive) industrial hemp is not regulated by the TDA.

Source: Tennessee Dept of Agriculture Website